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Exploring Competitiveness of Nature-based Tourism Destinations Using Social Media Analytics: A Case Study of Jasper National Park

  • Author / Creator
    Mirzaalian, Farshid
  • The aim of this dissertation was to explore competitiveness of Jasper National Park as a nature-based tourism destination through an examination of social media conversations and consideration of macro and microenvironment factors introduced in the Tourism Destination Competitiveness model, namely, destination loyalty and climate change (environmental competitiveness). Social media analytics was the main data analysis approach in this dissertation to comprehend and analyze a total of 17,224 TripAdvisor online postings about Jasper National Park, and was framed into three separate studies: The first study in this dissertation (Chapter 2) represents a pioneering effort to systematically review social media analytics in the hospitality and tourism context. This study presents a comprehensive review of hospitality and tourism studies that have utilized big data and social media analytics to collect, examine and interpret social media posts, and to better characterize this emerging research topic in hospitality and tourism by providing an integrated definition of social media analytics. For this purpose, study 1 identifies the dominant research questions that hospitality and tourism scholars have pursued through the application of social media analytics, as well as the most and least common social media analytical methods used to address them. Finally, the current knowledge gaps in the field are highlighted and potential research avenues for tourism and hospitality related social media data analysis are recommended. The second study (Chapter 3) advances investigations of destination loyalty by presenting a novel and comprehensive approach that integrates different analytical techniques such as sentiment analysis, topic modeling, and text clustering to extract sentiments, topics of interest, and loyalty statements from tourists’ conversational data on TripAdvisor. For this purpose, different aspects of visitors’ experiences shared on TripAdvisor about Jasper National Park are explored first, such as identifying themes and topics of online reviews about natural attractions and touristic locations, and documenting visitor sentiments and subjective evaluations of destination reviews. Next, and in order to determine antecedents of loyalty toward the destination, a loyalty keyword list is developed and applied to search for expressions of loyalty in online reviews. Practical implications for tourism providers and scholarly advancements in exploration of tourists’ loyalty behaviors are presented and discussed. The third study in this dissertation (Chapter 4) uncovers divergent themes regarding tourists’ perceptions of climate change upon visiting Jasper National Park, and identifies public understanding and discursive construction of climate change in social media. Study 3 provides a toolset for tourism researchers to better understand tourists’ climatic concerns from large conversational datasets by combining linguistic analysis and thematic discourse analysis. It also demonstrates how a qualitatively informed corpus-based approach can be employed for inductive analysis to gain greater insights about climate change-related perspectives by focusing on nature-based tourists’ discourses on social media. A broad range of themes are discovered regarding tourists’ perceptions of climate change, with the most significant discourses on climate grief, education and interpretation, pro-environmental behavior, and last-chance tourism. Findings of this study contribute to the existing research relating to public understanding of climate change and tourism. Practical implications and suggestions for tourism providers are presented and discussed. The overall findings, theoretical and practical implications, limitations of these studies, and future research avenues are summarized in the Chapter 5.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2021
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-jvg6-5v21
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.